Surveys suggest that more than 80% of workers in the construction industry suffer from some degree of work-related stress. This can include anxiety or depression and may lead to physical issues such as stomach ulcers and increased risk of heart attack. In an industry, where workers face demands such as heavy workloads, tight deadlines and high risk work environments, ensuring the emotional wellbeing of staff is increasingly being seen as imperative.
With a view to addressing this need, an industry-specific, on-line training programme has been developed to introduce the concepts of mindfulness and emotional wellbeing into construction companies. The programme, from a new company named Building Site to Boardroom (BS2B), launched to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.
The training programme has been developed by a team of former builders who understand the pressures faced by industry workers. “Often the connection between health, and physical hazards such as noise, dust, chemicals and vibration, are well recognised, but less well understood is the stress created by the working environment and the impact this has on inner wellbeing,” explains BS2B director Dave Lee. “When staff feel angry, frustrated and emotionally drained, the effects on their work can be serious, leading to costly mistakes, accidents and, in the most extreme cases, death.”
The training programme, which is a collaboration between BS2B and Olive Media, uses captivating animations (above)to show users how their thoughts affect their ability to work effectively. In one animation, machine driver Baz and pipe-layer James end up in conflict over Baz’s failure to follow James’s instructions. Investigation of Baz’s thoughts find they were on everything but the job in hand, which led him to make the mistakes he did. An explanation then follows to show how a mindful approach to the work would have produced a different outcome.
Each of the BS2B directors has his own story to tell about finding the internal tools to deal with life’s stresses. Dave Lee, who worked his way up from labourer to contracts manager on construction sites, knows only too well the impact of stress. At one point in his career he found himself turning to alcohol to deal with the pressure. “When my family life began to be affected I knew I had to find tools to deal with the stress and make life easier on the inside,” he says. In 2013 he published a book called The Hairy Arsed Builder’s Guide to Stress Management.
The directors of BS2B came together after seeing the many directives and codes of practice coming out of organisations such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Considerate Constructors and the Department of Health, which focussed on improving wellbeing and the working environment in the construction industry.
The training highlights the benefits of a more mindful approach in the workplace. These include being less likely to have an accident and having a greater awareness of the impact actions have on those around you. It emphasises collaboration rather than competition in the workplace, which increases productivity and efficiency.
It also offers an insight into the four values that make up the Core Value Approach used by BS2B. These principles aim to create healthier, happier relationships and can help with dissolving conflict in difficult situations.
The Core Value Approach is not a set formula, but rather something that adapts to various situations, as well as personal and cultural styles. The four core values are:
- Personal responsibility: Being aware of and taking ownership of your own thoughts, feelings, actions and responses.
- Equal dignity: Seeing, hearing and valuing the opinion of others, without the need to defend or attack them.
- Personal Integrity: Making a choice in a situation or moment that can best support your needs, and knowing you have a choice.
- Authenticity: Being open about how you feel and using clear communication to express your feelings and needs as honestly as you can.
The Building Site to Boardroom name came about because the company’s approach works for everyone, no matter what their role in the company. The pressure a driver feels trying to unload a lorry in a busy London street, with traffic backing up and angry pedestrians shouting at him, is much the same as the pressure faced by a managing director up against a client’s deadline for handover when a subcontractor hasn’t delivered the materials needed to finish the job, or the pressure on an office worker trying to get out the latest drawings while being hampered by a new computer system being installed. Stress is stress no matter who you are or what do.
To provide further support to people during times of crisis, BS2B has joined forces with construction industry charity The Lighthouse Club. The charity provides a 24-hour, seven day a week helpline to offer advice on a range of topics from wellbeing and occupational health to financial aid in times of hardship.
BS2B’s Self Awareness training is a CITB approved e learning modular training. As such, companies using the programme are able to claim back the purchase cost from the CITB. For more information contact BS2B at firstname.lastname@example.org .